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Senator Jim Webb on Why He Voted for Obamacare

I do appreciate Mr. Webb's response.

Mr. Lewis Loflin
4073 COVE CREEK RD
Bristol, VA 24202-1123
January 13, 2010

Dear Mr. Loflin:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding health care reform. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views. I voted in favor of health care reform legislation in the Senate. Despite my disappointment with some provisions in the bill, as well as the process under which it was considered, the final package presented to the Senate reflects many improvements that take into consideration the concerns that I and others brought forward during the debate.

Our country needs health care reform. Most importantly, the status quo of our present system, which is damaging our national economy at many levels, is unacceptable. Spiraling costs for health care have placed our biggest industries at a severe competitive disadvantage worldwide, and have become unsustainable for many small businesses. In addition, the billions of dollars spent on medical care for the uninsured is a burden borne not only by government at all levels, but also by tens of millions of others through higher taxes and insurance rates.

I have stated on several occasions my concerns that the Obama administration should have begun the health care process with a clear, detailed proposal, from which legislation could then be put into place. Instead, the legislation is the product of five separate congressional committees, three in the House and two in the Senate. I and my staff have carefully worked through thousands of pages of sometimes contradictory information, and have done our best to bring focus to the debate and clarity to the final product.

As the debate moved forward in the Senate, I repeatedly took a number of difficult votes, often breaking with my party, in order to strengthen the bill. The bill passed by the Senate addresses a number of the most troubling concerns. The new language demands greater accountability from health insurers. It reins in excessive overhead costs that go strictly to administration instead of patient care. It immediately makes available a health care tax credit for small businesses. It forces competition through a multi-state government-administered insurance option. It immediately bans 'pre-existing conditions' exclusions for children. It incorporates a measure that I sponsored to reward quality, instead of quantity, of Medicare services offered to patients.

The independent Congressional Budget Office now estimates that the reforms contained in this legislation will lower the federal budget deficit by $133 billion over the next ten years, and by more than $1 trillion over the decade following.

Now that two different pieces of legislation have successfully emerged in each house of Congress, I intend to examine closely the version produced at the next stage of the legislative process. Significant deviations from the core principles I insisted upon in the Senate compromise will lead me to withhold my support.

As the Senate continues to debate health care reform, please be assured that your views will be very helpful to me and my staff. I hope that you will continue to share your thoughts with us in the years ahead.

Thank you again for your interest in this important matter.

Sincerely,
Jim Webb
United States Senator